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Northern Ontario producers to participate in gluten-free oat certification pilot program

Increasing demand for crop could lead to manufacturing facility in Northern Ontario
Jamie Draves successfully negotiated a contract on the TV show Dragons’ Den in 2015. He’s now leading a pilot project that will develop a premium, gluten-free certification program to increase demand for the product. (CBC photo)

Katan Kitchens will work with Northern Ontario producers on a pilot project to develop a premium gluten-free certification program.

The company is receiving up to $17,195 from the Growing Forward 2 (GF2) program — a federal-provincial-territorial funding initiative — for the project. Grain Farmers Ontario is also providing funding.

“The goal of this project is to diversify Ontario agriculture by developing new and emerging alternative crops in line with existing food trends such as vegan protein sources, and gluten-free and allergen-free foods, in our efforts to bring higher revenues to Northern Ontario farmers,” company president-CEO Jamie Draves said in a news release.

Draves has successfully developed a strain of quinoa — an edible seed used in salad and rice dishes and prized for its high nutritional value — that is sold under the name Quinta Quinoa. It has been receiving accolades at international food tradeshows.

Draves, who hails originally from Cochrane, appeared on the TV show Dragons’ Den in 2015, and successfully negotiated an agreement with investor Vikram Vij.

Katan is now working to expand the use of, and demand for, gluten-free oats in Ontario. Through the pilot project, Draves will look to begin beneficial rotation of gluten-free crops in Northern Ontario, with the ultimate goal of building a processing facility in the North.

The pilot will close by the fall of 2017.